5217 32nd Street

For me, it all began here at 5217 32nd Street:

Even though I cannot put together exactly how I arrived at this place, where I have so many first memories, it is my desire to share my experience there, as it relates to my sense of self. Who I am now and who I thought I was then, are still one and the same. It’s just that I learned, forty-five years later, I’d arrived from a different vehicle than was led to believe.

The sights, sounds and smells recorded by this newborn sponge didn’t really register until my arrival at this west Detroit address in early January of 1942. I can remember nothing of previous experience during my first year of life. Which, I would be willing to bet, isn’t unusual. It all began for me here, just one year after Pearl Harbor

Fortunately, my father to be was a self-taught amateur photographer, who followed carefully the manuals and instructional graphics he obtained from Kodak. Where, in the attic, he had fashioned a tiny dark room in a crawl space near my bed. And, I need to add, I do mean tiny if not extra tiny. The many albums, full of family photographs of this period, are my reference for putting together these memories of my early life. We lived at 5217 32nd Street, Detroit 10, Michigan until my paternal grandmother died, just before my tenth Birthday in 1950.

house_BackMy new home, not being so new, I’m sure had seen better days before I arrived. Though it was plenty good for me. I grew up in this urban neighborhood full of kids that were full of fun sun up to sun down. It had a Mom & Pop grocery on nearly every corner where you could buy hand dipped ice cream of the sort they no longer make today. With our modern day brands I think Haagen-dazs is probably as close as you can find that resembles that real ice cream flavor. It’s true, I do consider myself a connoisseur of real ice cream tastes.

For the parents, who were mostly wartime factory workers, both Mom’s and Dads, there were Bars and Barbershops on nearly every other corner. Where, you could find most of them on Friday nights, enjoying a fish fry with neighbors.

We had twice a day interruptions during the summer by the Good Humor Ice Cream man pedaling his top loaded dry ice box up and down the street. In the mornings, every few days, we experienced a horse drawn ice wagon selling huge blocks of ice for those that didn’t have a refrigerator. The ice man with his pick would always manage to chip off a few hunks for us, which we eagerly licked to death. In the evenings we would watch for another horse drawn concession… a big white wagon selling on the spot fresh made waffles covered with powdered sugar. I think they were called Plotskies(sp?).

to be continued